Three things to hit the right note with your sustainability report.

Good sustainability reports are like music to our ears. They can generate trust, inspire people, and build brands. We've noticed that the best sustainability reports have three things in common: challenge, context, and clarity. So, here's how to make sure your report has them and hits the right note.

Address the big challenge

Every industry has a major challenge. The most trustworthy reports address these issues head-on. For instance, soft drink brands shouldn't overlook the harm of excess sugar. Horticultural businesses shouldn't ignore their water use. If you try to distract people from what matters most, you’re going to be accused of greenwashing. Worse, it might be true. Instead, make tomorrow proud by dealing with the real issues of the day. As the 80s sang, the skill to survive is "In the eye of the tiger".

Explain the context

Compelling reports give readers enough context to make sense of your benchmarks, goals and progress. It can be tempting to get cute with data. But, people who care about sustainability reports have a sophisticated B.S. radar. Don't be the brand showing off about water efficiency when your 'target' is what your legal consent allows. That's just asking for trouble. To build your audience's trust, take a cue from Billy Joel's Tell Her About It. "Give her every reason to accept that you're for real."

Use clear language

The best sustainability reports are concise and easy for readers to understand. Also, clear language helps build trust. So, if you want to show leadership and accountability, then talk plainly. Otherwise, you'll face Gloria Estefan's issue when "Words get in the way". And we sure don't want to be back there.